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Everything you need to know from World Retail Congress

Retail’s ability to disrupt and update its strategies alongside a broader call for more sustainable practices were among the key topics at this year’s World Retail Congress in Amsterdam.

“High velocity retail” and “the future of retail” were the themes for the conference in 2019, with technological advancement standing out as a priority for retailers. “If you’re slow at picking up these nuances, these trends and things that are happening all around us all the time, you’re going to be a loser,” said Lord Stuart Rose, former chairman of British department store Marks and Spencer, now chair of online grocer Ocado.

There was also a conversation around slowing down, however, which tied into consumer expectations of purpose-driven brands. “I think the brands and retailers who will win will be the ones who can tap into meaning,” said philosopher Robert Rowland Smith.

Here’s everything else you need to know…

TOP STORIES
  • High velocity retail: Why the World Retail Congress 2019 was a breath of fresh air [Forbes]
  • Slower retail: Has the industry hit its speed limit? [FashionUnited]
  • Lord Rose: Death of the high street is “overblown” [Retail Gazette]
  • Amazon revealed as the world’s most valuable retail brand, but it shouldn’t rest on its laurels [Warc]
INNOVATION
  • Levi’s to allow shoppers to customize their own ‘greener’ jeans [FashionUnited]
  • Retail chiefs dismiss AI job threat, promise more training [Reuters]
  • Google launches tool to help retailers boost customer experience [Retail Week]
  • Walmart International CEO on data privacy, the failed Asda merger and leveling the playing field for women [FashionUnited]
RETAIL UPDATES
  • Zalando to expand delivery from stores to bag missed sales [Reuters]
  • Yoox Net-a-Porter to become one of the first to launch shoppable Instagram account [ChargedRetail]
  • JD.com exec Ling on the future of ‘boundless retail’ [Retail Week]
BUSINESS MODELS
  • Retailers should collaborate to survive: “You can’t do it alone” [CyclingIndustry]
  • Retailers say business model needs to change for them to remain relevant [Enterprise Times]
  • Millennials are driving growth in emerging subscription retail services [FootwearNews]
  • Superdry chairman urges boardrooms to hire young people amid online shift [Retail Gazette]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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business Campaigns digital snippets product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Chanel announces successor, Amazon scraps Dash buttons, Ted Baker boss steps down

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Virginie Viard to fill Karl Lagerfeld’s brash boots at Chanel [The Times]
  • Amazon stops selling Dash buttons, goofy forerunners of the connected home [CNET]
  • Ted Baker boss Ray Kelvin quits after ‘forced hugging’ claims [The Guardian]
  • Gap to spin off Old Navy into separate public company [Retail Dive]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Apple is releasing a foldable iPhone, and it’s not only about all those patents [Tom’s Guide]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • New York City launches project to promote fashion recycling [Fashion United]
  • Launch of Australasian Circular Textiles Association (ACTA) means business for sustainable fashion [Fashion United]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Harrods targets online growth with Farfetch partnership [The Industry]
  • Ted Baker launches monthly product drops [Fashion United]
  • Pinterest expands the ability to shop on its platform [PYMNTS]
  • J.C. Penney pulls plug on clothing subscription service [BoF]
  • QVC UK introduces social commerce for ‘discovery-led’ shopping [Fashion United]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • New Balance pub only accepts miles ran as currency [TheCurrent Daily]
  • Louis Vuitton unveils digital ‘Postcard’ window displays [WWD]
  • Rebecca Minkoff partners with Yelp to support businesswomen [Fashion United]
  • Ralph Lauren opens Ralph’s Café on Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris [Fashion Network]
PRODUCT
  • Meet Glossier Play, the new high impact makeup brand from Glossier [WWD]
  • Net-a-Porter teams up with prominent female designers for international women’s day capsule [Fashion United]
  • Bonobos to unveil first women’s capsule [WWD]
  • Target is the latest retailer to take on Victoria’s Secret [Quartz]
BUSINESS
  • Swarovski, CFDA part ways for Fashion Awards [WWD]
  • LVMH plans London hotel and new flagship in experiential push [BoF]
  • Anya Hindmarch to split with partner Mayhoola for investments [WWD]
  • Burberry launches staff training plan after ‘noose’ hoodie row [The Guardian]
  • L Brands to shutter 53 Victoria’s Secret stores [Retail Dive]
  • Puma signs mega global deal with Manchester City owner, its biggest deal ever [Fashion Network]
  • Macy’s new restructuring to cut 100 senior positions, save $100 million annually [Fashion Network]
CULTURE
  • Sesame Street’s turning 50, and InStyle dressed our favorite characters for the party [InStyle]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton, Instagram launches IGTV, H&M’s flagships

Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton
Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week, including Virgil Abloh launching for Louis Vuitton.

TOP STORIES
  • Over the rainbow: Virgil Abloh makes historic Louis Vuitton debut [BrandChannel]
  • Instagram celebrates its 1 billion user mark with launch of YouTube rival IGTV [TheDrum]
  • How H&M is rethinking its flagships [BoF]
  • 3 ways personalization can save brands from the retail graveyard [VentureBeat]
TECHNOLOGY
  • This AI program could beat you in an argument – but it doesn’t know what it’s saying [TechnologyReview]
  • Marks & Spencer partners with Microsoft on artificial intelligence initiative [WWD]
  • Performance-based marketing gets blockchain makeover [WWD]
  • You too can be a “Westworld” AI with this new Alexa game [FastCompany]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Asos to ban silk, cashmere and mohair from its website [BBC]
  • Stella McCartney unveils sustainable shop with ‘cleanest air’ in London [Independent]
  • MPs launch inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry [TheIndustry]
  • How Parley for the Oceans became fashion’s go-to environmental non-profit [Fashionista]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • 22 experiential stores NYC has to offer [RetailDive]
  • M&S should be “looking seriously” at Amazon tie-up says former digital boss [Retail Gazette]
  • IRL stores are doing it for the ’Gram [Racked]
  • How Depop is catering to Gen Z and millennials to get an edge over resale competitors [Glossy]
  • Farfetch’s Black and White program shows slow growth [Glossy]
  • Retailers, malls staving off Amazon with help from OneMarket [WWD]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • YouTube hires Derek Blasberg to head fashion partnerships [TheCut]
  • Aerie rapidly gaining market share off social media and ‘more authentic’ women [CNBC]
BUSINESS
  • Chanel publishes annual results for first time in 108 years [NY Times]
  • Amidst consolidation wave, Acne Studios could fetch €500m [BoF]
  • Kering to sell Christopher Kane back to designer [BoF]
  • Google to invest $550 million in China e-commerce giant JD.com [Reuters]
Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Fashion’s woman problem, the hologram reality, Zara’s digitally-integrated store

Fashion women
A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Fashion’s woman problem [NYTimes]
  • Holograms: are they still the preserve of science fiction? [Guardian]
  • Zara opens its pioneering digitally integrated store at Westfield Stratford [TheIndustry]
TECHNOLOGY
  • JD.com plans to make courier robots smarter by enabling them to ‘talk’ to lifts, ascend towers [SCMP]
  • Loving the alien: Why AI will be the key to unlocking consumer affection [Forbes]
  • How to succeed at being a crypto and blockchain influencer without really trying [NewCoShift]
  • China’s government casts uncertainty on blockchain evolution [JingDaily]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Nike, H&M and Burberry join forces for sustainable fashion [Reuters]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Sephora is launching in-store beauty classes for trans people [Them]
  • Burberry is successfully steering sales into its own stores [Glossy]
  • Alibaba’s newest initiative aims to make Hong Kong a global AI hub [TechCrunch]
  • This new company is about to make fast fashion even faster [Racked]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How we made our own CGI influencer in 48 hours [TheCut]
PRODUCT
  • Fabrics of the past, present and future and the best ways to wear them [ManRepeller]
  • Hue breakthrough: Scientists engineer first active, color-changing fabric [WWD]
BUSINESS
  • MatchesFashion gets a royal wedding boost to top off bumper year [CityAM]
  • Can Walmart crack fashion? [BoF]
  • Nordstrom wants brands to embrace the ‘size spectrum’ [Glossy]
  • New Look accused of ‘fat tax’ by charging more for outfits after size 16 [Telegraph]
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Editor's pick Retail technology

JD.com on a future where robots replace humans

Richard Liu, CEO, JD.com
Richard Liu, CEO, JD.com

“Sooner or later, our entire industry will be operated by AI and robots, not humans,” said JD.com’s CEO, Richard Liu, at the World Retail Conference in Madrid this week.

Speaking to a large audience of retail professionals, the head of China’s second-largest e-commerce company (behind the Alibaba Group), highlighted the fact he believes the future of retail is all about automation.

The Asia region is known to heavily invest in technologies that enable more personalized, seamless, and often self-directed retail experiences, as we recently highlighted on the site, making this a more natural leap for such businesses, but Liu’s views were not met by everyone worldwide.

Mango chairman Daniel Lopez disagreed on the idea of automation as inevitable, saying that humans are sociable at the core, so stores should strive to provide that element. “This is part of the experience that consumers are looking for, and by all means we shouldn’t lose that human touch,” he said. Mango has always had ‘experience’ as a central part of its DNA as a result, he explained.

In another conversation, John Lewis’ group development director, Tom Athron, delivered a warning on the same note: “Walk away from the power of the human at your peril. To assume consumers want everything to be automated or screen-based is naive, they want that in some ways, but I have a belief that humans and machines together will always be better than humans on their own, or machines on their own.”

Athron agreed, however, that some automation is necessary when labor is a retailer’s biggest cost. As the industry and technology evolves, it’s inevitable computers will be able to perform certain jobs more efficiently, he explained, making it essential to shift accordingly to an extent in order to remain competitive.

Véronique Laury, CEO of Kingfisher, which owns companies such as UK DIY retailer B&Q, says that the only benefit a physical store will have in the future is to provide emotion-led experiences, which are more often than not facilitated by humans. “That emotional connection is not completely fulfilled through digital techniques or technology. The human being side of talking to someone who understands what you are going through will be really important even in the future,” she said as she likewise dismissed the idea of purely automated or robotic-led stores.

Beyond experience, convenience and frictionless shopping was also a central theme of the conversation at the event. JD.com’s Liu also spoke about how the company is always finding opportunities to invest in logistics capabilities to serve the Chinese consumer’s evolving expectations around speed, for instance.

JD.com’s delivery service currently covers 100% of China and offers next day delivery to 90% of its 252 million customers. Liu’s goal for the next few years is to have a convenience store in every Chinese village, and the retailer is currently deploying drone technology to source and supply more remote locations until it reaches that milestone.

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business data digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Bitcoin millionaires love streetwear, voice shopping on the rise, solving the last mile

Bitcoin millionaires are coming for streetwear
Bitcoin millionaires are coming for streetwear

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Bitcoin millionaires are coming for streetwear [GQ]
  • Alexa, I need … everything. Voice shopping sales could reach $40 billion by 2022 [USAToday]
  • Solving for the last mile is retail’s next big disruption [RetailDive]
  • What Gucci’s gun stance says about the end of corporate neutrality [BoF]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Levi’s revolutionizes finishing process, driving more sustainable supply chain [TCDaily]
  • Unilever and IBM’s blockchain experiment: a silver bullet for digital or a ‘glitzy’ quick fix? [TheDrum]
  • JD.com’s new accelerator focuses on blockchain startups [TechCrunch]
  • JD.com upgrades AR/VR capabilities for beauty [WWD]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Why is it so hard for clothing manufacturers to pay a living wage? [Racked]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Wear now, pay later: credit shopping goes digital [BoF]
  • ‘To find it, just Boohoo it’: How the fast-fashion retailer is making a go of visual search [Glossy]
  • Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake talks data, Amazon—and hot tubs [FastCompany]
  • Macy’s just confirmed the end of department stores as we know them [Business Insider]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • The Outnet is using its chatbot to push out influencer content [Glossy]
  • The Gap wins over Instagram with this empowering breastfeeding ad [FastCompany]
  • Allbirds is selling a limited-edition shoe exclusively on Instagram [Glossy]
PRODUCT
  • Hunter teams up with Target for limited edition collection [TheIndustry]
  • The US is now buying more stretchy pants than blue jeans [QZ]
BUSINESS
  • Why Burberry chose Riccardo Tisci [BoF]
  • How Guess mismanaged its #MeToo crisis [BoF]
  • Marks & Spencer publishes gender pay gap and pledges to extend monitoring to age, ethnicity and disability [TheIndustry]
Categories
business Campaigns digital snippets Editor's pick film product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Industry faces its #MeToo moment, tech hits Olympics, Vogue and Amazon Echo Look

Tom Ford - ICYMI #metoo metoo fashion week
Tom Ford

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • New York Fashion Week: industry faces its #MeToo moment [TheGuardian]
  • Can an app launch the fashion world’s #metoo reckoning? [Vanity Fair]
  • Olympic clothing designers try to beat the cold with technology [Scientific American]
  • Vogue and GQ will test content inside Amazon’s Echo Look [Digiday]
  • Can Christian Louboutin trademark red soles? An EU court says no [NY Times]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Intel unveils smart glasses that you might want to wear [Engadget]
  • Walmart’s tech incubator buys VR startup Spatialand [Reuters]
  • Opinion: Blockchain technology will make true luxury more lucrative [JingDaily]
  • JD.com and Fung align for AI development [RetailDive]
  • Asics Ventures invests in conductivity textiles [FashionUnited]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Eileen Fisher, Columbus Consulting reveal details for sustainable design plan [WWD]
  • Primark publishes global supplier map showing all of its factories [TheIndustry]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Target CEO: Our personal shoppers will deliver to ‘your kitchen table’ [CNBC]
  • Macy’s plans pop-ups to amplify discovery [RetailDive]
  • Malls are dying, but things remembered is still hanging on [Racked]
  • Tips from the e-commerce giant Zalando [Maize]
MARKETING
  • Benjamin Millepied directs Ansel Elgort and Kate Mara in a mesmerizing film for Rag & Bone [CreativityOnline]
  • Nike rolls out NikePlus membership benefits [WWD]
  • Asics personal trainers will kick your butt as you use its fitness app [CreativityOnline]
SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Instagram entices brands with new shopping-enabled ads [TheDrum]
  • Pinterest sees 600 million visual searches every month [VentureBeat]
  • Swarovski and KiraKira+ launch fashion week ‘brilliance’ filter [WWD]
PRODUCT
  • UA HOVR, ushering in a new chapter of sneaker tech innovation [FashNerd]
BUSINESS
  • Canada Goose craze continues as shoppers flock to new stores [BoF]
  • British designer Misha Nonoo is rewriting fashion’s playbook [FastCompany]
  • The cautionary tale of H&M and digital disruption [BoF]
  • LVMH Luxury Ventures backs Stadium Goods [WWD]
  • Tapestry shares rise after earnings beat expectations [BoF]
Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media technology

ICYMI: Starbucks’ blockchain rewards scheme, luxury in the age of digital Darwinism

Starbucks’ Rewards scheme
Starbucks’ Rewards scheme

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Starbucks’ Rewards scheme is part of its much bigger vision for a blockchain-backed digital currency [TheDrum]
  • Luxury in the age of digital Darwinism [McKinsey]
  • Meet fashion’s first computer-generated influencer [BoF]
  • Instagram appeal: How social media is changing product development in beauty [Digiday]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Retail spending on AI to reach $7.3B by 2022 [Retail Dive]
  • MIT scientists created accessories that change color to match your outfit [QZ]
  • The Grammys brought IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence to the red carpet [AdWeek]
  • Walmart’s new robots are loved by staff—and ignored by customers [TechnologyReview]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn explains the Walmart acquisition: ‘We have a safe and permanent home’ [Glossy]
  • Personalization is a priority for retailers, but can online vendors deliver? [AdWeek]
  • H&M moves into the off-price marketplace with Afound [FashionUnited]
  • Selfridges launches world’s first in-store boxing gym [FashionNetwork]
  • Mashable and eBay team up for launch of shoppable images pilot [TheDrum]
PRODUCT
  • Adidas Boost: the sneaker technology that changed a company’s fortunes [GQ]
  • GlassesUSA.com to launch 3D printable glasses [FashionUnited]
  • Amazon just patented some creepy “Black Mirror”-esque tracking wristbands [FastCompany]
BUSINESS
  • After 15 years, eBay plans to cut off PayPal as its main payments processor [Recode]
  • Ralph Lauren is discovering how hard it is to fix a brand [Fortune]
  • H&M admits ‘mistakes’ in handling shift to online shopping [FT]
  • JD.com puts France at the heart of its internationalization strategy [FashionNetwork]
Categories
digital snippets e-commerce product social media technology

What you missed: See-now-buy-now, Nicopanda x Amazon, Kering tops sustainability index

Nicopanda spring 2018 will see one-hour delivery from Amazon
Nicopanda spring 2018 will see one-hour delivery from Amazon

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past week.


TOP STORIES
  • Three seasons in, see-now-buy-now is going nowhere [Glossy]
  • Amazon tests one-hour catwalk-to-doorstep deliveries at Nicopanda show [Reuters]
  • Kering tops the Dow Jones Sustainability Index once more [FashionUnited]
  • British Fashion Council launches climate change initiative with Vivienne Westwood [BoF]

BUSINESS
  • The trouble with Topshop [BoF]
  • Hermès hits record first-half profit [FT]
  • BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund announces JD.com partnership [The Industry]
  • Giorgio Armani on London fashion week: ‘It’s the only true city where you see the creative turmoil’ [The Guardian]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Victoria Beckham takes top spot in digital engagement during NYFW [WWD]
  • How Mario Testino found a new lens through Instagram [Campaign]

MARKETING
  • Mick Rock shoots Rome residents for Gucci campaign [Dazed]
  • Inside Dior’s first micro-influencer campaign [Glossy]
  • Puma signs long-term partnership with Selena Gomez [FashionUnited]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Liu Qiangdong, the ‘Jeff Bezos of China’, on making billions with JD.com [FT]
  • eBay moves into luxury with fashion start-up Spring [Racked]

TECHNOLOGY
  • All the tech plans for Tommy Hilfiger’s LFW show [Forbes]

PRODUCT
  • Stone Island’s thermo-sensitive ice knitwear collection changes colour in cold weather [Design Boom]
  • Nike introduces Flyleather, its latest ‘super material’ [BoF]
  • Nike unveils ‘connected’ jersey for NBA partnership [BoF]

START-UPS
  • Fashion start-up wants customers to be able to customise every item they buy [PSFK]
  • Natalie Massenet joins seed funding for hosiery start-up Heist [BoF]
Categories
e-commerce

The luxury rivalry between Alibaba and JD.com: What you need to know

Creative Lab / Shutterstock - China e-commerce Alibaba JD.com
Creative Lab / Shutterstock

Alibaba and JD.com have long competed with each other to become the dominant e-commerce force in China. Lately, their battle has escalated in the luxury arena.

Over the past few months, each has welcomed a wave of new luxury brands that have launched or are about to launch on their respective platforms. For example, Kering-owned Saint Laurent and Swiss jewelry and watch label Chopard chose JD.com, while most labels under the conglomerate LVMH (such as watchmaker Tag Heuer, beauty brands Fresh and Guerlain, and most recently the Spanish luxury brand Loewe) have chosen to work with Alibaba’s business to consumer (B2C) site Tmall.

“We see both JD.com and Tmall really ramping up their efforts to create a more high-end experience for luxury brands,” said Liz Flora, editor of Asia-Pacific research at the digital intelligence firm L2.

JD.com invested nearly $400 million in the globally-leading luxury e-tailer Farfetch in June, hoping to ride on its expertise to better serve Chinese luxury shoppers. Alibaba also upped its game in the luxury arena by unveiling the exclusive Luxury Pavilion section of the Tmall site, for a select group of affluent Chinese.

It is, indeed, good timing for both platforms to step up their expansion into the luxury sector, according to Jacqueline Wong, executive director of the luxury marketing agency Activation Group since the e-commerce giants can offer something that the gray market cannot.

“Chinese consumers have been accustomed to online shopping,” Wong said, “When it comes to purchasing luxury goods online, they are now looking for platforms that can give them more confidence (in contrast to other traditional gray channels such as daigou and local unofficial distributors).”

Also, Wong believes that because the two e-commerce giants have operated in China for years, they’ve been able to collect enough customer data that can be utilised to better serve luxury brands.

However, while the customer need for luxury e-commerce platforms is there for the taking, it shouldn’t be taken for granted and Alibaba and JD.com still have to put up a fight to meet their expectations.


How have their differing models affected the way that luxury brands engage with the platforms?

Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com offer differing levels of partnership deals to international brands. Alibaba allows brands to launch official flagship stores on the site from which they can self-run their businesses, and sometimes provides them with necessary marketing, data analytics, and logistical assistance.

While JD.com also has flagship stores, it is thought of more like Amazon, a marketplace for a wide variety of products sourced from brands that then get distributed from JD’s own warehouse.

The different models have affected the way that luxury brands engage with the platforms. Currently, in terms of the pace of luxury brand acquisition, Alibaba’s Tmall is leading. According to a recent report by L2, as of 2017, 24% of its index luxury brands own a flagship store on Tmall, while only 10% of that group have one on JD.com.

But JD is quietly catching up. While its share of the market is less than that of Alibaba’s, overall, its warehouse operates 65% of L2’s index luxury brands as of 2017, a figure that is much higher than the number of flagship stores it has. However, without a flagship store, the platform cannot guarantee it has a direct relationship with the brand, necessarily, as luxury goods can also be sold by independent distributors.

The Farfetch partnership is also set to give JD.com a bigger advantage as it has strong relationships with luxury brands: 83% of L2’s index luxury brands are on Farfetch’s China site.

Alibaba’s strength is reflected in its close relationships with two major luxury powerhouses LVMH and Kering, which both own a load of elite luxury labels that are looking to expand further in the Chinese market.


What are some common challenges they are facing?

1. Fashion and Luxury DNA
“It is not the case that you list luxury items on your site, then consumers will just come to buy them,” said Wong from Activation Group when commenting on challenges faced by these two platforms to further tap into the luxury sector.

“These e-commerce platforms need to adjust their branding to show their fashion and luxury DNA. That’s how to uplift Chinese consumers’ expectations and confidence in purchasing luxury items on their sites.”

Unlike international luxury e-tailers such as Yoox Net-a-Porter and Farfetch, which have had luxury in their DNA from the get-go and long been endorsed by brands, Alibaba and JD.com both started with a grassroots profile. Therefore, whether they are able to transform their image through these luxury platforms in the eye of the market remains a pivotal question.

2. Counterfeits
The issue of counterfeits is an old one, but it has been a constant thorn for international luxury brands looking to develop a closer relationship with Chinese domestic e-commerce platforms. It is a topic that cannot be avoided, particularly by Alibaba whose Taobao Marketplace has been flooded with fake goods.

Since late last year, however, Alibaba has made a flurry of public efforts in dealing with the issue from setting up the Anti-counterfeiting Alliance to launching an IP protection platform for brands.

“They are making a lot more progress now than they were last year,” L2’s Flora said and added that these ramped-up efforts are really paying off for them as this year, they have attracted several new brands such as Tag Heuer, Furla and Polo Ralph Lauren.

JD.com, on the other hand, has received less criticism on this front. “JD.com is a bit more advantageous at convincing brands that it could fight fakes,” Flora noted, “because it distributes products from its own warehouses. So it shows that they are able to be more on top of counterfeits than Alibaba.”

But JD.com is also not immune to the counterfeiting phenomenon. In January 2017, a Chinese consumer sued JD.com for selling fake luxury timepieces on its platform in Beijing Chaoyang People’s Court. Even though JD.com was not punished in that case (the court decided the platform was not the right party to be sued), fake products do exist on the site.

3. Customer experience
Another aspect that both platforms need to work on is creating the luxury customer experience online to satisfy buyers looking for exclusivity and premium services like the ones they receive at traditional brick-and-mortar luxury retailers.

Alibaba has relied on the “New Retail” initiative they are experimenting with to deliver a seamless shopping experience for consumers. This new data-driven business model will integrate online stores, physical stores and logistics, which has the potential to create high-end luxury experiences for consumers.

JD.com focuses more on the logistics side. It just unveiled the “white glove” express delivery service for luxury buyers. In some metropolitan cities, consumers can receive their orders within 24 hours and their packages are brought to them by well-dressed deliverymen in luxury cars.

By Yiling Pan @SiennaPan

This article was originally published on Jing Daily, a Fashion & Mash content partner.